As of Monday, February 1, the pro-Israel organization Proclaiming Justice to the Nations (PJTN) no longer appeared on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC) “hate map.” The SPLC, a scandal-plagued leftist smear group that leverages its history as a civil rights nonprofit to brand mainstream conservative and Christian organizations “hate groups,” putting them on a list with the Ku Klux Klan, has removed a few lesser-known right-leaning organizations from the list in recent months.
Amazon removed PJTN from its charity donation platform Amazon Smile in November 2019 after the SPLC branded PJTN an “anti-Muslim hate group” in 2017.
In January, PJTN still appeared on the SPLC’s “hate map” for Tennessee, listed after Political Islam and before the Proud Boys.
By February 1, the SPLC had removed PJTN. The new “hate map” only lists Political Islam and Proud Boys, with no organization in between them.
“I am delighted that the Southern Poverty Law Center has agreed to take Proclaiming Justice to the Nations off their list,” Laurie Cardoza-Moore, PJTN’s president and founder, said in a statement. “This entire fiasco was a misunderstanding that we were pleased to overcome through open dialogue with SPLC. Our organization exists to fight hate and prejudice and has done so successfully for over a decade both at home and overseas.”
The SPLC has removed some organizations following cease-and-desist letters threatening legal action. Citizens for the St. Croix Valley in Star Prairie, Wisc., and the American Constitution Center in Nashville, Tenn., disappeared from the “hate group” list after sending cease-and-desist letters to the SPLC.
However, PJTN did not threaten legal action, a source close to the proceedings told PJ Media. Instead, PJTN explained its positions and pointed out the shallowness of the SPLC’s research.
“We did not send SPLC a usual ‘cease and desist’ letter; there was no written or verbal threat of a lawsuit,” the source told PJ Media. “We did explain that PJTN and Laurie did incur damages to reputation, to fundraising, and Laurie received death threats, as well.” The source did admit, however, that it was “implicit in our discussion, although not explicit,” that PJTN would take some further action if the discussions did not reach any resolution.
“We explained our positions and pointed out where SPLC‘s research was too limited and too shallow. For example, on specific issues that seem to upset them, they did not do what a legitimate investigator would do,” the source explained. “They did not ask us for a comment or an explanation about why we did what we did, and yet compelling explanations for our positions were certainly available. We related at least one specific example. We also mentioned that regardless of how hard we tried, we could not get anyone on the phone to talk to us from SPLC.”
“We also argued that if ‘anti-hate’ is SPLC‘s mission, they should welcome PJTN into the fold,” the source added, noting that PJTN’s central mission is to combat anti-Semitism. “We also noted that SPLC‘s definition of a hate group is one that includes the targeting of an entire people or religious group and that PJTN does not do that. Rather, any people or organization that spouses or behaves in an anti-Semitic matter, whether Christian, Muslim, or Jew; whether Democrat or Republican, left-wing or right-wing political orientation, can expect to see criticism from PJTN.”
A 501c3 non-profit organization, PJTN was established “to educate Christians about their biblical responsibility to stand with their Jewish brethren and Israel against the rise of global anti-Semitism.” According to its website, the organization’s mission involves educating, advocating, and activating “Christians, Jews and all people of conscience in building a global community of action and prayer in support of Jews and Israel.”
PJTN has taken a firm stance against the anti-Israel Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions (BDS) movement. Cardoza-Moore told PJ Media that her group has been responsible for 15 anti-BDS resolutions to date, most recently in Ohio. The group has also launched a boycott against Airbnb when the company agreed not to list rentals in what it referred to as “occupied territory” in West Bank settlements.
PJTN also called for the resignations of Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.). Israel banned Omar and Tlaib from entering the country, due to their support for BDS. In calling for Omar’s resignation, PJTN specifically noting her support for “the anti-Semitic BDS movement” and Omar’s tweet declaring that “Israel has hypnotized the world.”
When asked about the SPLC’s accusation that PJTN is an “anti-Muslim hate group,” Cardoza-Moore said it is “absurd.”
“It’s absurd. PJTN exists to fight the oldest hate on earth: anti-Semitism. If standing up to anti-Semites like Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar is what got us blacklisted [on Amazon] then so be it,” she said. “It would appear that PJTN has become a canary in the coal mine to warn what happens when big tech is allowed to create discriminatory policies based on the nefarious listings of political organizations with an ax to grind.”
As I explain in my book Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center, the SPLC cannot be trusted. A once-noble civil rights organization that still does some good work, the SPLC has nonetheless weaponized its history in bankrupting groups like the Ku Klux Klan to brand mainstream conservative organizations “hate groups.” The SPLC puts conservative and Christian organizations on a “hate map” with offshoots of the KKK and cites its list of “hate groups” as if it were a statistically-significant measure of the threat of white supremacist terrorism.
The SPLC expanded its Klanwatch program to start defaming organizations like the Family Research Council (FRC), Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), ACT for America, the Center for Security Policy (CSP), and many more as “hate groups,” putting them on a “hate map” with the KKK. This “hate map” inspired a deranged man to target FRC for a mass shooting in 2012. While the SPLC rightly condemned the attempted shooting, it kept FRC on the list. Last month, someone exploded a bomb in a church that is on the SPLC “hate group” list.
The SPLC also has skeletons in its closet. In 2019, the SPLC fired its co-founder, had its president step down, and had a prominent member of the board distance herself. The scandal broke out due to accusations of racial discrimination and sexual harassment, some of which had gone on for decades. Amid the scandal, former employees came forward to expose the “con” of exaggerating hate to bilk donors.
Yet the “hate group” list appears to be more than just a fundraising scheme. The SPLC uses it to demonize and silence its political and ideological opponents. Indeed, a former spokesman said the group’s “aim in life” is to “completely destroy” the organizations it blacklists.
In addition to Amazon, companies like Eventbrite, Hyatt Hotels, Chase bank, and others have blacklisted mainstream organizations that found themselves on the SPLC’s list. In 2019, Michigan state officials launched a “hate crimes unit,” citing the SPLC’s annual report on “hate groups.”
The SPLC has not responded to PJ Media’s request for comment on why the smear group removed PJTN from its “hate group” list.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.